Updated: Nov 30, 2021
... and why is it important for migraines?
I see more and more people converting to being vegetarians or even vegans for respect of our environment and also to protect the animals. I totally get that - I’ve been a vegetarian for many years myself.… I can just say that it didn’t do me any good: I felt weak, tired, had cravings and was hungry every 2 hours, had to wear constant nail polish so my nails wouldn’t break just to name a few.
I felt SO much better (especially in energy) once I started eating meat again.
There’s different aspects to this:
If you don’t eat meat or fish or eggs daily, your stomach acid production will go down and that will have a negative impact on your mineral absorption (iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, iodine…. all need stomach acid to be split up for use in your body). You might remember that all of these minerals are important for our hormone and thyroid function, but just in general minerals are involved in almost all cellular, energy and nerve function synthesis. A lack of magnesium can cause heart palpitations for instance and also migraines.
Don’t forget that your stomach acid is your first line of defense for keeping bacteria like hpylori in check, but also to kill off parasites and other bacteria we’re ingesting with our food.
Although plant foods can provide us as well with vitamins and minerals, our body needs to convert them in combination with other nutrients so that it can use them and also the amounts we are getting from plant foods compared to animal sources are by far not comparable.
Amino acid distribution is much less optimal in plant foods. Amino acids are crucial for hormone production, muscle strength, protecting our gut and mucosal lining.
Plants contain anti-nutrients (lectins, saponins, tannins and phytates) that will further deprive our body of minerals, but also wreck havoc with our digestive tract.
Finally, there’s other essential nutrients that you can’t get with a plant based diet unless you’re taking supplements.
Now you know me: I always pray to eat plenty of veggies (especially the green ones) and I still stand by that, but organ meats are like nature’s multivitamin, they’re far superior in nutrient density, high in iron, vitamin B12, B6, folate, choline, iron and zinc. One serving of liver gives you 50,000X more Vitamin A, 2X more iron and 100X more B12 than other cuts of red meat. Overall, organ meats give you between 10 to 100 times more nutrients per serving than muscle meats. Eating all parts of the animal means providing our bodies with the most bioavailable nutrients in perfect proportions for our health and longevity.
The big question is: how can we be eco-responsible and have a balanced and nutrient-dense diet?
If you think of cattle, you might think of methane and CO2 emission, but what about all the grains and legumes that are massively produced? That’s no better!
And then sometimes these grains are used to feed the animals that we are eating. Consider that cows actually should eat grass and not grains, just as we humans are built to be omnivore. So I believe the solution here is sustainable farming or regenerative agriculture and that goes for grains, legumes AND animals.
Regenerative agriculture is a method of grazing livestock and farming which aims to restore natural rhythms, degraded soil, improve the water cycle and carbon drawdown in order to reverse climate change and increase biodiversity. More and more farmers are taking this approach already. And this is not only about consuming meat or not: our vegetables are lacking minerals because the soils are so depleted.
By supporting local produce and farmers and being mindful about what and how we eat we can all make a difference.
We have become over-reliant on ultra-processed foods, grain and muscle meat, which means we are no longer consuming a diverse range of nutrient dense foods. Muscle meat is high in the essential amino acid methionine, which can elevate homocysteine levels. Homocysteine has been associated with chronic illness, heart disease and cancer. Organ meats on the other hand contain glycine, which is protective against methionine imbalance, but also very beneficial for protecting our gut lining.
If you are not a big fan of organ meats - here’s what you can try
try to cut liver in tiny cubes and put it in the freezer - 1 cube per day is enough
make a liver pâté or buy one from a trusted butcher
If eating organs is still too much to wrap your head around, a good way to get more glycine in your diet is from bone broth.
You can easily make this yourself or for the lucky ones living in the US or the UK, you can also buy it.
Bone broth is one of the greatest foods for the cold season and especially if you are sick.
6 reasons why animal protein is essential for brain health and why I recommend it for migraineurs:
consuming animal protein keeps you fuller longer and avoids blood sugar imbalance and therefore brain fog. Blood sugar imbalance has also shown to trigger migraines.
animal protein is the only sufficient source of Vitamin B12, which is essential for proper cell function, formation of blood cells and brain function. Deficiency usually results in anemia (fatigue), impaired brain function (poor memory), symptoms of mental disorders (depression) and a smaller brain.
DHA Docosahexaenoic Acid s the most abundant Omega-3 fatty acid in the brain and it is criticial for normal brain developments but also plays a critical role in our body’s inflammation process.
creatine is known for supporting muscle strength and energy production (ATP). But it is also concentrated in the brain. The same way that our muscles require energy to work, our brain needs energy too! While creatine can also be produced by our liver, studies have shown that vegetarians or vegans tend to have lower amounts of creatine in their muscles. One study placed people on a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet for 26 days and found that their muscle creatine levels had significantly decreased.
carnosine is an antioxidant that’s concentrated in your muscles and brain. It is known to reduce damage caused by elevated blood glucose and may have strong anti-aging effects through it’s antioxidant function
CoQ10 - Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that’s key to keep our cell activity healthy. A coenzyme Q10 deficiency may put a person at risk for migraines, heart disease and other medical issues (found in organ meats and fatty fish)
Evidences indicate that Vitamins and amino acids especially present in organ meats and animal protein (as some listed above) have prophylactic and therapeutic effects on migraine patients.